August 24, 2010
Haaretz recently reported that a new Israeli Government program will see Arabic language classes made compulsory in Israel's schools, starting from the fifth grade. Beginning this year as pilot initiative in 170 public and religious-public schools in northern Israel, the scheme will eventually be adopted across the country.
Until now, Israeli students had the option of learning Arabic to fulfill a requirement to study a second language in grades seven to ten. Other options were Russian, French, or Amharic. But a marked increase in demand from students for matriculation (Bagrut) studies in Arabic has led education officials to rethink the curriculum. The change is expected to draw dozens of Arabic teachers into the school system.
According to Dr. Shlomo Alon, Head of Arabic and Islam Education in the Ministry of Education, the Ministry is interested in recognizing all of the state's citizens and providing opportunities for Arab teachers within Israeli education.